CHICAGO -- Kansas City's Ned Yost has been around numerous catchers in his nine-year managerial career, but there's no question in his mind which one is the best defensively.

It's his current backstop, Salvador Perez, who Thursday set a Royals' single-season record for catchers with his Major League-high fourth pickoff.

"He's the best," Yost said Friday before the Royals began a three-game series against the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field. "His throwing, his intellect, his athleticism. Very, very solid behind the plate in every aspect defensively."

And, of course, the 22-year-old isn't bad at the dish either, hitting .313 with nine home runs and 30 RBIs with only 16 strikeouts in 56 games. He also extended his hitting streak to a career-high 12 games on Friday.

Yost said Perez has lived up to the organization's expectations and, when asked of the youngster's ceiling, Yost responded by saying Perez can be a "perennial All-Star."

Inconsistent play part of building process

CHICAGO -- Kansas City manager Ned Yost isn't looking at the Orioles' playoff push this season as something from which the Royals can learn.

"I can go through 15 different examples, it's not just the Orioles," Yost said of Baltimore, which hasn't had a winning season or reached the playoffs since 1997 but began the day tied with the Yankees atop the American League East. "But you still have to stay focused on what you're doing as a group and where you are. We're getting very close."

Kansas City's strong August, coupled with the Indians' and Twins' struggles, has the Royals in third place, well behind the White Sox and Tigers. But the Royals have played well against contenders like the White Sox (8-4) and Rays (4-2) while struggling against the Twins (5-10).

Yost wouldn't label his team's inconsistent play frustrating. Instead, he said it was exciting to see how close the team is to reaching it's potential.

"We've got some areas we need to address and be more consistent in, mainly our starting pitching," Yost said. "I think our young kids have made great improvements and great strides this year."

At some point, however, young players need to stop making strides toward their potential and actually hit it. Yost said going through that inconsistency is part of the process for youngsters and sometimes it takes a while. He's hopeful, however, that 2012 is one of the final building blocks.

"We put a bunch of young guys tougher all at one time, so they've learned their lesson together, they've gone through it together, they've gotten better together," Yost said. "The first full year is a very valuable year in terms of experience and learning and these kids have, for the most part, all been here from the beginning to the end this year, so it's going to pay dividends next year."

Crown points

• Salvador Perez extended his hitting streak to a career-high 12 games on Friday, eclipsing his 11-game streak earlier this year. His current streak is the longest by a Royals player this season.

• Shortstop Alcides Escobar entered Friday hitting .455 (10-for-22) this season at U.S. Cellular Field and is batting .340 (18-for-53) in 15 career games on the South Side.